Janus KsingolaThe actor and businessman from Debrecen From utopia to the American dream His book will be published in Hungarian translation next June. On April 14, at American Corner Debrecen, Balázs Venkovits, director of the Anglo-American Institute at Debrecen University, spoke to the author about his youth in the city, his adventurous journey to America, his career there, and why he feels so. His life story embodies the idea of the American dream.
Although János Czingula lives in the United States at the age of nineteen, he visits home at least once a year. The likable, well-mannered man of eighty-six has no trace of an American accent, and remembers his places of life in Debrecen as easily as if he had been there only yesterday. The world of communist Hungary, his family’s living conditions and the events of the 1956 revolution in Debrecen vividly come to life in him. After graduating from a commercial high school, he did hard physical work on the railway, as he did not like it as a poor young man.
When the revolution broke out, he was among those who marched to the Track Maintenance Directorate on Csapó Street to speak to the administration. He applied to the Drama College three times, but in each case received a rejection letter on the grounds that it was politically inappropriate. Then the insiders told his father in 1957,
It is better for the son to leave Hungary. His younger brother also wanted to go, but his parents wouldn’t let him. Finally, he left for America with one of his friends, who at that time only knew that Hollywood was there. Arrived in Detroit after an adventurous trip. He entered the University of Economics and then realized the so-called American Dream.
But what does that mean for him? “Success,” says János Czingula without hesitation, who at first worked as an actor, at which he did not succeed much, but for ten years he made a living from it. He then turned to commercial life and enterprises, for which he considers the solar plant to be his greatest success. He remembers that his grandmother was also a great businessman, even though she was nearly killed by the Russians. When the Russians found him, he was trying to protect his massive drilled rifle, so he shot one of them. His belief that he could do it and that he did not want to work for someone else helped him navigate the difficulties in America. He only worked as an employee for six months before finally becoming his own boss.
The relationship with former Bethlene classmates is so strong that he knows each other’s children well. The former principal of his vocational high school, Gyorgy Palas, expressed his gratitude to János Czingula for the facility he had set up in the schoolyard and presented him with a yearbook.
When the Hungarian-language volume is published in June, new discussions will take place, when the author responds to the audience’s reading experiences and questions that arise during reading.
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